Posted at 8:28 AM on May 7, 2008
by Tim Nelson
Goldman Sachs analysts now say they can foresee another $80 tacked onto the new $122 a barrel oil record. It's an extension of their "super spike" theory, the one that once predicted (SHOCKING!) oil at $105 a barrel.
Assume for argument's sake that that everyone keeps getting, proportionately, the same piece of oil's financial action that they're getting now. That would put gas at about $5.72 a gallon or more when oil hits the magic $200 mark.
We're talking $100 for a typical 17 gallon tank that was costing you just $34 as recently as the last time the White House was up for grabs.
At some point you might as well just get out and push. (That's actually why I quit driving the nitro-fueled funny car to work. I do miss the 93-second commute, but then again, it was hard to park.)
If you're driving 40 miles each way every workday, $200-a-barrel gas is going to cost you maybe an additional $100 a month from what you're paying now.
That's a lot, but what's the alternative? Selling your house and moving closer to work? You'd have to move halfway closer to the job and pay a bargain-basement $200,000 mortgage for five years to recoup just the bank fees with your gas savings.
And that's saying nothing of the bath you took on the real estate, the stuff you broke during the move or what you're actually saving when gas drops back to a relatively reasonable $5 per gallon.
How about selling your car and getting something more reasonable? If you're getting 20 miles a gallon now, you'd have to trade in for a 32 mpg model to match today's per-mile fuel cost.
You know what vehicle gets 32 mpg, according to Car and Driver magazine?
The Smart Car.
Yeah, that little French two-seat number that looks like the egg that Robin Williams popped out of in the opening credits of Mork and Mindy. But with wheels.
The Smart Car is four feet shorter than a Volkswagen Beetle. AND it requires high buck 91-octane gas, to boot. You aren't trading the Corolla in for that thing, let alone the Volvo XC70 or the Ford F150 XLT.
Here's what the News Cut Strategic Global Petroleum Index Assessment™ says: Whatever Goldman Sachs says oil is going to cost, you're gonna pay it.
Posted at 2:08 PM on May 7, 2008
by Tim Nelson
It turns out that the complexity of Al Franken's income taxes isn't a recent phenomenon. They date back to the Al Franken Decade.
Comedically speaking, anyway.
Hearken back to April 5, 1980, and Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. It dates from the end of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players era, just five episodes from the final breakup of the original cast. The newsbreak was one of the classics, with Jane Curtin and Bill Murray at the anchor desk.
And, um, Al Franken as the "social sciences editor," asking that prescient question: "Well, now that it's tax time, I know a lot of you are thinking, what can you do to help me, Al Franken, do my taxes?"
Here's how Franken explained the situation 18 years ago (with a tip of the News Cut chapeau to colleague Elizabeth Stawicki, who pointed us to the site):
Okay, now I'm gonna tell you three of the ways that I legally avoid paying my fair share of taxes. I'm not going to tell you everything - after all, this is something I pay my big-time accountant for, whose services are, by the way, tax-deductible.
Now, first - the Al Franken Corporation. You see, I make only $300 a week, paid to me by Al Franken the Corporation. Now, the rest of the money taken in by the Al Franken Corporation goes to paying many of the expenses of its employee - me, Al Franken. Now, of course, the more business expenses that Al Franken, me and Al Franken, the corporation can document, the less taxes I have to pay.
He urged the audience to send in their receipts for any and everything. Books, medicine, food, whatever, noting that, as a comedian, anything could be part of his act and a business expense. "My accountant can do something with it. Believe me."
Here's what looks to be a reasonable transcript of the segment. The Internet Movie Database and several other sites indicate that there was indeed a Franken tax sketch on that episode, but no one else seems to have the actual video.
As always, any contributions would be warmly welcomed here at News Cut Headquarters.
Anyway, consider this today's reminder that there's a very fine line between tragedy and comedy.
Who knew it'd turn out to be a U.S. Senate race?(4 Comments)
Posted at 4:11 PM on May 7, 2008
by Tim Nelson
One of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence is on display at the Minnesota History Center. On Tuesday the museum opened a display of the document printed in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.
It's here in Minnesota to help celebrate the state's sesquicentennial, to be marked this Sunday.
But America got a new beginning, too, just downstairs from the Declaration of Independence this morning. A 129 people from 40 different countries stood in the 3M Auditorium and swore their allegiance to the United States.
They were drawn by love; they fled war, and everything in between.
"In this country, you can become what you want to become if you wish. That's an incredible opportunity here," said Adasanya Adelaja, of Brooklyn Park. Originally from Nigeria, he wore his leather U.S. Army jacket to the ceremony: like several others among the newly minted citizens, Adelaja is already an American soldier.
That's him at left. He quickly made friends of two other African natives at the ceremony -- Rahel Desta, of Bloomington, (at center), and William Doup, of St. Cloud (right). She's originally from Ethiopia. He's from Sudan. They all followed siblings or parents to America.
"I'm proud to be a citizen of this country, of the greatest nation in the world," Adelaja said, showing off his citizenship certificate.
A couple rows away, Kamran , a health care manager from Eden Prairie, was sitting alone, the sole immigrant to stand when the USCIS adjudications officer read "Iran" from the roll of countries from which today's immigrants had come. (He asked that his last name not be used.)
He fled his native country more than 20 years ago. "His parents sent him away," his wife, Britt said. "They didn't want him in the Iran-Iraq war." He's never gone back.
Kamran came instead to the University of Minnesota and majored in physics. "The alternative was to go fight in the war," he said. "The way to stay out of that was to go to university, just graduate from high school and go to college, but the colleges were closed for a year or two at a time. Really, the only opportunity was to continue your education. The United States offered me that opportunity. Here I am."
Kamran, his wife and daughters Catharina and Julia (holding her hand over her face with firm 4-year-old defiance) and son Nicky were all in St. Paul for the occasion, and for cookies and lemonade at a reception in the upstairs rotunda.
It may be true, as the Declaration of Independence's author Thomas Jefferson said, that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
But the toil of college students, the yearning of mothers for their sons and daughters, a father's pride and even the heartache of leaving behind family and home - they all help, too, if Wednesday's crowd at the History Center was any indication.(2 Comments)